RV TPMS: What It Is and Why You Need It

One of the greatest fears every RVer has is a breakdown on the road. Apart from it dampening the enthusiasm of your road trip and ruining your schedule, a breakdown can be downright scary if it happens in the wrong place, at night, or during bad weather.

Though there are a multitude of things that can go wrong on any vehicle at any time, one of the most common failures on an RV is a tire. Motorhome owners have a lot of them to contend with between the coach itself and the towed vehicle and it only takes something as small as a wayward nail to cause a flat—or worse yet—a blowout.

For decades, RVers simply had to remain vigilant about inflation pressure—checking it before travel and during fuel stops. While this is still a good habit to be in, it won’t help if you start to lose pressure in one or more tires as you travel down the road. That’s why a Tire-Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) is such a worthwhile addition.

By constantly keeping tabs on all the tires as you travel, a TPMS can let an RV owner know the instant a tire starts to lose pressure and address the problem before it gets catastrophic. At the very least, a good TPMS can save owners a lot of money especially if the tire can be fixed rather than replaced.

An RV TPMS is a safety feature that not only protects you (and everyone riding in and around your RV while you’re on the road) but it also helps to keep your tires in tip-top condition, a goal near-and-dear to the hearts of RVers—for many reasons.

Let’s take a look at why this system is so important.

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What is an RV TPMS?

The purpose of an RV tire pressure monitoring system is to track the pressures of all tires on the rig to make sure proper tire pressure is maintained as you travel.

Many factors can cause tires to lose air including a change in ambient temperature, a slow leak, and a fast leak caused by something the tire strikes on the road or even just time and travel.

Using our rig as an example, we’re 40-feet long (without the car in tow!) and heavy. If we’re rambling down the highway at 65 miles per hour and one of our RV tires blows out we could find ourselves in a very precarious situation. Not only would we be in danger in this scenario but so could anyone traveling near us on the road.

This is what makes an RV TPMS so critical.

Constant monitoring of tire pressure allows you to be alerted to any changes in the tire pressure of every tire on your rig as they happen.

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How does an RV TPMS work?

A TPMS places a sensor at each of the RV tires and the sensors allow the constant monitoring of each tire’s pressure. As soon as the pressure in any one of the tires drops below the appropriate level, the driver is notified via the information on the TPMS console mounted on the dashboard of the rig.

Those are the basics of how a TPMS system works but depending on the model, some offer a variety of additional features. Some systems offer customizable high and low-pressure alerts and a high-temperature alert (each sensor also monitoring the temperature of the air in the tire).

Why do you need an RV TPMS?

There are several important reasons to have an RV TPMS. The first and most important by far is for safety.

1. Safety

A system that monitors your tires contributes to your safety, the safety of everyone in your RV, and the safety of everyone in the vicinity of your rig.

A TPMS system is a good tool for every vehicle and even more so for RVs. Most motorhomes are large, long, tall, and very heavy. Some have twice as many tires as the average vehicle on the road.

Our rig has six tires and our toad has four more. So, we ride down the road on 10 tires. Our RV alone weighs over 14 tons and we spend a lot of time on the road. At any given time any one of those 10 tires could have an issue and we want to be alerted as early as possible.

A blowout in any vehicle is dangerous. A blowout in a 38-foot motorhome towing an SUV while hurtling down the highway could very easily be catastrophic.

2. An RV TPMS extends tire life

Tires that are over- or under-inflated wear out more quickly than tires that are maintained at their recommended psi. Overinflation leads the tire tread to wear more quickly at the center of the tire while underinflation can cause the outer treads to wear prematurely. For this reason, a TPMS extends tire life.

3. Environmentally friendly

Under-inflated tires wear sooner and reduce fuel efficiency by increasing drag. This makes a TPMS an environmentally friendly system in a couple of ways.

First, there’s the fuel consumption issue, of course. Improperly inflated tires can increase the drag resisting the rotation of your wheels causing your RV engine to have to work harder (i.e. burn more fuel) to roll down the road. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2 percent for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.

There’s also the matter of tire replacement. A worn tire requires replacement and the more tires you replace, the more rubber, steel, nylon, silica, polyester, carbon black, petroleum, etc. you use (and dispose of)!

Types of RV Tire Pressure Monitor Systems

There are two types of RV TPMS—direct and indirect. Let’s take a look at what distinguishes them from one another.

Direct RV TPMS

The most common form of TPMS, this type adds a sensor to each tire (either installed inside the tire by mounting it to the wheel/rim or externally on the valve stem). The sensor is programmed to that tire position and then provides real-time data alerting the driver if the tire’s pressure drops below the appropriate level.

Some direct TPMS units will also alert you to a slow leak in a tire as well as when a tire’s temperature rises above a certain point.

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Indirect RV TPMS

Indirect tire pressure monitoring systems are less common. They work along with the antilock braking system of your RV or vehicle.

An indirect TPMS senses and monitors how fast the wheels are spinning. When one wheel spins at a different speed than the others, it generally indicates improper tire pressure in that tire. The driver is alerted to the discrepancy and can stop and tend to that tire.

With an indirect TPMS, the sensor must be recalibrated every time the tire pressure is changed.

Indirect TPMS units are factory installed only and are not available as aftermarket systems.

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What to look for in an RV TPMS

Here’s where we get into the details. RV tire pressure monitoring systems have a number of features that are important to assess when considering the purchase of a system for your rig.

Display

The type of display on a system you need to monitor while driving is an important consideration. If you can’t read the display in the sun, for example, the monitoring system is relatively useless whenever you’re driving in those conditions. Look for a display that is easily read even when wearing sunglasses. While this may seem like an obvious feature of any TPMS, it isn’t.

Also consider the size of the display screen; for most people a 4 ½ inch x 3 inch screen is easy to read.

It’s very important to have a TPMS with a high-quality display that’s easy to read.

Ease of use and installation

This is self-explanatory but no one likes to have to spend hours trying to figure out how any system works. You want a system that’s easy-to-install and easy-to-use so that you can set it up, learn how to use it quickly, and carry on about your business.

So, when shopping for a TPMS, be sure to read reviews where you can often find comments from people who will often express how frustrating a system was to install or to learn.

You want a system you’ll install and walk away saying, “That was easy” and one you’ll use almost without having to think about it.

Reliability

The reliability of any product is always important. But when you’re counting on a product to give you accurate information related to a safety item, you want to be darn sure that information is reliable.

I’ve heard complaints about wireless connectivity issues. If your TPMS only monitors the condition of your tires some of the time then it’s not serving its intended purpose.

The reliability of how the system responds is crucial. The system must properly respond to changes in tire pressure and temperature or it’s of no real use and could even present a danger if it’s giving inaccurate information.

Flexibility

One size does not fit all with a tire pressure monitoring system. The reason is that we’re all driving and towing different rigs. But let’s say you’re taking a road trip and leaving your toad behind.

You’ll want a TPMS system that allows you to separate the two different parts of your towing configuration. If you leave the toad behind, you want to be able to drop it from the system and monitor only the tires on your motorhome.

This is perhaps an even more important feature for trailer/fifth wheel owners. They need to know that even if they’re not towing their RV their TPMS will work on their truck.

Another important element of flexibility is whether or not you can buy as many sensors as you need, based on how many tires you have.

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User-replaceable sensor batteries

A system that allows you to replace the batteries is an important consideration when purchasing a TPMS.

Some systems don’t have user-replaceable batteries and as the batteries began to die they start having an issue with individual tires not properly reporting. The cost of replacing the low-battery sensors can be more than buying a whole new system.

You’ll want a system that has a monitor with a built-in rechargeable internal lithium battery and comes with a common USB charging cord that can be connected to a USB port for easy charging.

If you’re looking at a system that doesn’t have user-replaceable batteries, you need to know the predicted life of the included batteries and you also want to know whether the sensors can be sent back for replacement when they’re no longer sensing accurately due to low battery power. (Or perhaps replacements are offered at a discounted price.)

Cost/budget

Budget is always a consideration when shopping for a product and a tire pressure monitoring system is certainly no exception.

There are various systems out there at various costs.

But shop for quality, ease of use, and reliability. If you buy a quality product up front that performs well, you won’t need to replace it for a long time to come.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Ten Ways to Keep Your RV Clean and Tidy

Make every camping trip more enjoyable by keeping your RV clean and tidy

Almost everything about camping in an RV is great—except for cleaning it. The dreaded chore can put a damper on the fun. Spring cleaning, prepping before your next trip, and cleaning up when you get home are all important and often unpleasant tasks.

Being on the road often, driving, and parking in the dirt and traveling through various weather conditions all put your RV through a lot. The cleaner you keep your RV, the easier it will be to avoid the normal wear and tear from traveling throughout the year. (You should aim to wash the exterior of your RV at least once a quarter, if not more depending on how often you travel and where you go.) 

An RV seems like a lot of work to clean but doing little things frequently will make it seem like less of a daunting task and help you take pride in your ride.  

Here are 10 tips that can help to take the hassle out of cleaning your RV.

1. Read the instruction manual

Your RV’s instruction manual is a treasure-trove of information that can give you tips and tricks for cleaning your RV’s exterior and interior. This includes what type of cleaners you should and shouldn’t use and any specialized care instructions. For further information, try your RV manufacturer’s website for extra tips on cleaning and making your RV sparkle. Failure to read the instruction manual could lead to damage to your RV’s surfaces and finishes. 

2. Ditch the brand-name products

Most RV materials aren’t any different from other vehicle or living material types. It’s easy to want to purchase a brand-name cleaner or solution that’s made exclusively for RVs but the truth is many common and generic household cleaners work perfectly well to keep your RV sparkling, including dish soap, window cleaner, even distilled white vinegar. Those fancy products at the RV superstore are appealing but they’re typically more expensive. 

Dawn Dish Soap © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Spring cleaning

Make sure to have a clean start for your camping season. A deep clean each spring makes your entire summer of camping so much better.

Give the exterior of your RV a thorough cleaning and waxing.

Don’t forget to wash the awning, too. It is easy to forget about this important accessory because it is usually folded in when you are at home doing maintenance and cleaning on your RV.

Clean your RV’s tank sensors to keep them working all season long. Use a cleaning wand to blast the gunk out of your black tank. You can also soak your black and grey water tanks by adding a cup of Dawn dishwashing detergent to a tank that is ½ full of water and then driving around to agitate. There are also commercially available enzymatic tank cleaners that help to remove a dirty tank.

By the way, I have a series of posts on spring cleaning:

4. Clean out the storage area

Your RV’s storage areas can hide nasty messes and smells. It can also host mold, mildew, and other nasty critters. Clean out your RV’s storage areas, including external storage, often to avoid build-up of any dust or the accumulation of dirt and debris. Always check the nooks and crannies of your RV’s storage areas to make sure nothing is left behind that can turn to stink. 

Dump the black and then the gray water tank © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Dump those tanks

Your gray and black water tanks can be the source of many nasty odors and while tanks don’t directly affect your RV’s appearance, a poorly maintained tank will bother you while hanging inside and outside your ride. Dump and flush your tanks as necessary to keep your whole ride refreshed. Keep a supply of disposable vinyl gloves, a hose, a bucket, and other necessary items stored away exclusively for dumping and cleaning your tanks. 

Here are some helpful resources:

Reduce moisture with dehumidifiers © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Prevent mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are major enemies of RVs and since they thrive in moisture reduce moisture within your RV. This includes running yo ur air conditioning in humid environments, opening windows and doors when possible, and buying moisture-absorbing packets for closets and storage areas. If you have an item that reeks of mildew, avoid detergent as it can feed the critters. Wash mildew-smelling clothing in a washer with a couple of cups of distilled white vinegar to kill off the bugs and leave your clothes smelling fresh. 

Be sure to read How to Reduce Moisture and Condensation in Your RV.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Give your tires some shine

Over time, your RV tires start to fade and wear out as they are increasingly exposed to the elements and road debris. Tires withstand a lot of abuse and can sustain scuff marks and small cracks which ages them and frankly makes your vehicle less attractive overall.

Use a product that’s specially designed to spiff up your tires. The best tire shine brands not only clean your tires but also produce a nice, glossy look. When used as a regular part of your maintenance routine, tire shine not only makes your tires look better, it can also protect them from UV rays and other damage. 

There is quite literally more tire dressing products on the market than you can count. Recommended products include Meguiar’s Ultimate Insane Shine Tire Coating, Chemical Guys Galactic Black Wet Look Tire Shine Dressing, and 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Here are some articles to help:

8. Don’t forget the roof

The roof of your RV is one of the most important parts to maintain to avoid interior leaks and other issues. Many modern RV roofs are constructed from membrane roofing, but you still see plenty of metal roofs on the road. If yours is metal, you can wash like you would your RV’s exterior, but if your RV is made of modern membrane roofing, it’s recommended to use specialized cleaner found at RV and camping stores. A twice-yearly cleaning of a membrane roof is usually enough to keep it in good shape. Take this time to inspect the roof for any tears, cracks, rips, or other damage. 

Start with a clean RV

9. Before you head out

Starting out each trip with a clean RV makes the entire trip much more enjoyable.

Clean all of the surfaces of the interior. Use a mild cleaning solution like a mixture of vinegar and water to wipe down every surface, wash walls, and clean all the nooks and crannies.

Clean camping toys in the dishwasher with about a cup and a half of vinegar.

Make sure the sponges in your RV are free of bacteria by microwaving damp sponges for one to two minutes.

10. When you return home

Take a few minutes when you get home to do a quick tidy up so your next trip is that much easier.

Check everywhere for dirty laundry or stray dishes. Move cushions and open cupboards to make sure nothing gets left in the RV between trips.

A quick wet mop on the flooring cleans up all of the dirt that is bound to accumulate during a camping trip.

Clean the toilet with a gentle, natural cleaner so it doesn’t break down the seals around the toilet and cause a leak.

Throw all bedding in your home laundry so it is ready to go when you are.

Keeping your RV clean doesn’t have to be a huge chore. When everyone pitches in, it shouldn’t take too long to get your rig back up to scratch.

Worth Pondering…

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

—Phyllis Diller

Planning your Summer Road Trip Begins NOW

Mapping your route and stocking up on gear in advance will pay off when you hit the road

In February’s cold, dark days, a summer road trip might be the farthest thing from your mind. Without the need to book a flight or coordinate other transportation, it’s easy to rely on spontaneity for a last-minute escape once the weather warms up. The beauty of an RV road trip is its structured freedom: you can do anything you want just as long as you are willing and able to drive.

But pushing off your planning until sunnier days could affect your vacation down the road. Investing a little time now will go a long way toward making the most out of your summer.

If plotting a course feels daunting, start by clustering destinations that will you give you something concrete to plan around. Depending on the number of days you expect to travel, you can add or remove stops along the way.

White Sands National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For example, a trip through three national parks in New Mexico and TexasWhite Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, and Guadalupe Mountains—could be knocked out in a long weekend. Tack on Big Bend National Park for an additional few days to account for the extra mileage and time to explore.

A classic way to plan a road trip is to follow one of America’s best-known vacation drives such as Route 66, the Pacific Coast Highway, or the Lewis and Clark Expedition Trail. Though they may seem cliché these drives are still famous for a reason: They capture the history of America. You can use social media to find modern attractions along these well-tread routes.

Search for geotags along the route for crowdsourced advice on what to visit while you pass through. Use hiking apps like All Trails to explore what nature recommendations people have outside of national park suggestions. Start following accounts of bloggers or local experts who post about the areas you’re visiting. To keep yourself from overcommitting, keep a list of these potential food stops, campgrounds, roadside attractions, and nature areas along the way to reference when you need options.

Whether you’re planning to follow a well-known path or keep a looser schedule, become familiar with your major waypoints by April. This will give you time to research lesser-known sights and dig for local suggestions. By the time you hit the road, you’ll have the confidence to make quick (but informed) decisions.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make reservations at national parks

While reserving a spot inside a national park isn’t the only way to camp near popular nature sites, it is well worth the foresight if you can book a few nights ahead of time.

Every park has its own schedule of openings, reservation requirements, and campsite availability so the best advice is to closely track a few parks for announcements. While some national parks save a portion of their campsite reservations to be released a week before booking, most park reservations open six months in advance.

Most National Parks reserve a few spots per campground as a first-come, first-serve option. They can be impossible to predict so do not rely on their availability if you are set on camping inside the park. Note that reservations often become available at 8 a.m. in the time zone of that park.

Permits for popular hikes and activities also become available at this time at Recreation.gov.

Timed entry reservations will still be required at a handful of popular parks during the peak summer months: Yosemite, Arches, Zion, Glacier, Rocky Mountain, and Haleakalā National Parks will all require some reservation to enter.

For complete details read 10 National Parks That Require Early Reservations for 2024 Visits

To the National Park Service’s credit, these required dates cluster around the most popular weeks and holidays and there are usually exceptions like entering a park before 5 a.m. that still allow for some flexibility if you can’t score a reservation in time.

Friday’s Fried Chicken, Shiner, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Buy gear and supplies

A backpack, good walking shoes or hiking boots, wide-brimmed hat, and sun protection are all important regardless of how much outdoor activity you’re planning. It’s not just the outdoor gear to keep an eye out on—road trip essentials range from storage options to electronics to RV supplies.

Be sure to stock up on household and RV-related items: paper products, water filter, plastic bags, tissues, disinfecting wipes, and a fully stocked first aid kit.

That’s why I wrote this article: 35 Little Things to Remember to Pack for Your RV Road Trip

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Check your vehicle

Don’t forget about a checklist for your RV. A tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, and a roadside tool kit can all come in handy even if you’re renting an RV. And always keep a paper atlas on hand in case you’re out of cell service range.

Beyond the typical under-the-hood checks—engine oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic oil, coolant, and washer fluid—be sure to check your lightbulbs and brake reactivity, even in rentals. Spending hours on the road can decrease your focus and reaction time so ensure that the RV will be safe and comfortable. That’s why you should follow the 330 Rule.

The biggest investment to make in your pre-road trip vehicle is a new set of tires especially if you tend to only drive in the city. If you’re planning on driving or pulling a camper, van or RV and have been putting off upgrading your tires consider buying tires with a longer tread life or thicker tread for more diverse terrain.

Historic Route 66 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here are some helpful resources when it comes to tire safety:

Worth Pondering…

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

—Miyamoto Musashi

RV Snowbirding: 10 Tips for Driving South This Winter

From fuel discounts to safety protocols to being comfortable, I share my best RV snowbirding tips for the drive South plus helpful resources

Are you preparing to drive south for the winter? Here are RV snowbirding tips to help you get there safely.

Like birds, RVers across northern North America prepare to head south for the winter. These snowbirds leave their northern homes for a few weeks or the entire winter to escape the cold winter months for a warmer climate. 

If you’re joining the flock this year, I have some helpful snowbirding tips for the drive down. And some of these tips can help experienced snowbirds as well!

From fuel discounts to safety protocols to being comfortable, I share my best tips for a snowbird road trip plus helpful resources.

I have lots of articles on the RV snowbird lifestyle including the most popular snowbird destinations and other great places to stay. But in this article, I’ll cover the most important things to consider for your drive down.

The following RV travel tips will help during all road trips but especially during the snowbird season. Since you’re heading out for long periods of time you want to make sure you’re prepared and comfortable.

Carefully inspect your tires and check air pressure EVERY travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Carefully inspect your tires

Before setting off on your winter adventure, it’s crucial to inspect your RV tires. Better yet, take them to a trusted tire shop because the back of the tires is difficult to properly inspect at home.

Cold temperatures can affect tire pressure so make sure they are properly inflated. Additionally, check for any signs of wear and tear or damage.

Don’t forget to pack a spare tire, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable air compressor.

I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you to read the following articles as they can save you from ending up on the side of the road or even save your life:

Make your RV comfy © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Get comfy accessories for the road trip

Long drives can take a toll on your comfort. Making your RV as cozy as possible for the driver and passengers is essential. Invest in soft pillows, warm blankets, and supportive seat cushions.

I suggest reading How to Stay Safe When RVing. And for nervous passengers, I recommend reading RV Driving Tips: 20 Ways to Stay Safe and Calm.

3. Prep your roadside emergency kit

No matter how cautious you are, emergencies can happen. Prepare a roadside emergency kit containing essential items like a first aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, extra batteries, roadside flares, and a basic toolkit.

It’s also a good idea to have spare fuses, a tire pressure gauge, and a portable jump starter. Be prepared and feel confident on the road.

In addition to a roadside emergency kit, I recommend carrying RV roadside assistance coverage. Here are some helpful resources:

Make sure your insurance is in order © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Make sure your RV insurance is in order

Before heading south, double-check your RV insurance coverage. Ensure that your policy includes comprehensive coverage for both accidents and natural disasters related to your destination.

Confirm that your policy extends to the full duration of your trip and that you have coverage for any additional drivers.

5. Make sure your health insurance and prescriptions are in order

Your health is of utmost importance and you don’t want to wait until something goes wrong or your prescriptions run out to find a solution. The farther you get from your doctor and pharmacy the trickier things can become—unless you’re prepared!

I have a helpful resource regarding managing your healthcare while traveling:

Stop for roadside attractions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Follow the 330 Rule

The 330 Rule is you stop when you have driven 330 miles or its 3:30 in the afternoon. The idea is to get somewhere while it is still early enough to explore, chill, and enjoy the place when you’re not exhausted from driving miles upon miles. 

You can learn more about the many benefits of the 330 Rule by clicking here.

7. Have podcasts or audiobooks queued up

Long stretches of road can get monotonous and lead to drowsiness or irritability. To make the journey more enjoyable have a collection of your favorite podcasts or audiobooks ready to keep you entertained.

You can learn something new or dive into exciting stories while cruising down the highway making the hours fly by.

Museum of Appalachia, Clinton, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Embrace serendipity travel

While planning your route is important don’t be afraid to embrace the spontaneous side of RV travel. Allow yourself the flexibility to deviate from the itinerary and explore unexpected attractions or beautiful camping spots along the way.

Serendipity travel can lead to unforgettable experiences and hidden gems you might have missed otherwise.

You can see some of the amazing places and experiences we’ve enjoyed because of serendipity:

9. Use fuel discounts

Whether your RV runs on diesel or gas, fuel costs are a big part of your travel budget. RV fuel discount cards and programs help you stretch those dollars farther.

The benefits range from discounted gas prices to multiple ways to save at specific locations. Plan your fuel stops accordingly to take advantage of these discounts helping you save money while enjoying your snowbird journey.

Here’s a great article on How to Save on Gas and Diesel: RV Fuel Discount Cards and More RV (for gas and diesel!).

Texas State Aquarium, Corpus Christi, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. Get a reciprocal membership

RVers can SAVE BIG with reciprocal memberships that give you free or discounted access to a network of museums, zoos, and more.

A reciprocal membership program is a collaboration between cultural institutions that extends benefits to members of participating institutions. If you have a reciprocal membership with one museum you’ll get benefits from all other museums in that network. 

Benefits may include free or discounted admission, merchandise discounts, special newsletters, and other great deals. It’s a great way to save while doing fun things along your drive. Learn more by reading Plan an RV Trip to a Museum: How to Save with Reciprocal Memberships.

Safe travels!

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, Snowbird:

Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow

When to Replace RV Tires

Worried that tire dealers and manufacturers are exaggerating when you need to replace motorhome and trailer tires? Well, here’s when to replace RV tires.

When to replace RV tires is a very common question among RVers that has a very important answer—an answer that can not only save you money in the long run but a big headache, too. Not to mention it directly affects your safety!

“If I can offer some advice to newbies…replace all your tires. I don’t care how old they are, how good they look, how much tread they have. If you did not put them, just do it.”

The above advice recently appeared on a Facebook RV discussion group. While this advice may seem drastic, it’s based on a sound foundation. I’ll explain why in this article as well as cover the exceptions. 

Hint: the key phrase is “if you did not put them on.”

Check your tires at each rest stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Learn from others’ BAD experiences

I’m unaware of why the writer lives by this advice but it’s easy to assume he learned the hard way.

First, I want to further explain or express what may be the reasoning behind this strong recommendation.

You shouldn’t necessarily trust the tires that came with your RV (either new or used). So many trailer tires are garbage. Heat kills tires; they heat up from being overloaded, going too fast, and just hot roads. A lot of trailer tires used to be only rated for 65 mph. There is a difference in quality between manufacturers.

You can’t just go by age or tread of the tires. Even if you put them on and at some point ran the tires 30 percent or more below psi for weight, replace them. That is the problem with trusting older tires from a prior owner or owners. You have NO IDEA of how often they were run with low air pressure or even flat and they are compromised and WILL blow out.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When to replace RV tires

The rule of thumb for changing your RV tires is around 3-6 years. The consensus from RV owners leans to the 5-6-year end of that estimate. However, that rule of thumb only applies to quality tires that have been well cared for.

If you are driving on tires that you did not put on, you may not know the following:

  • The quality of the tires
  • If the tires were overloaded by a too-heavy RV
  • If the tires were underinflated
  • If the tires were extensively exposed to extreme temperatures or direct sunlight

All of the above can drastically affect the durability of RV tires without affecting their appearance. So, they may look like new tires with little tread wear but that can be deceiving. They can even be new tires with no tread wear and still not be safe or reliable.

So, even if there’s no dry rot, serious signs of wear or uneven wear, or obvious damage to the tire sidewalls, that’s no guarantee you won’t end up with a blown tire.

By the way, if you don’t know already, you should read about the Danger of Underinflated RV Tires.

How to REALLY know when to replace RV tires

It could be wasteful to blindly follow the above social media comment. After all, some new and used RVs come with high-quality tires that received the proper care and were always driven at the proper tire pressure. But the advice should encourage you to carefully consider your RV tires along with the following information.

Check the DOT number

You can look at the DOT number on your tire to determine its age. A DOT serial number communicates a lot of information in a short series of numbers.

DOT Numbers Represent the following in order of their grouping on your tire:

  • DOT (Department of Transportation)
  • Tire manufacturer / plant code
  • Tire size code
  • Tire manufacturer
  • Date tires were made (first two numbers are week, second two are the year)

Research the type of tire and quality

Based on the second and fourth DOT number groupings, you can research the quality of the tire. Most tires usually have the name of the manufacturer engraved on the rubber, too.

A general rule (that a lot of RVers like to shout from the rooftops) is to replace any tire made in China. These types of tires have earned the dramatic nicknames of Chinese bombs and Chinese poppers and for good reason. Chinese brands seem to blow more than any other.

Tip: You can even go as deep as researching the RV manufacturer and if they’re known for tire blowouts.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Determine the age of the tire

By looking at the date code (the last four digits of the DOT), you can determine the age of your tires. If any tire is beyond the 5-year mark, this is a big tick on the replace side of your should I replace my RV tires chart.

If your trailer or motorhome tires are less than 5 years old and especially less than 3 years old, you can further consider the other factors in this article.

Ask the previous owners

If you’re buying used, it’s a good idea to ask the previous owner about their maintenance habits. Of course, you have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Its human nature to make it sound like you did a better job taking care of something than you actually did. But at least you can get an idea.

Questions you can ask:

  • How often did you check the tire pressure?
  • How much weight did you usually carry?
  • Did you ever carry any particularly heavy loads on a long road trip?
  • Did you use tire covers when you stored your RV?
  • Did you often travel at high speeds?

The best way to ask these questions is to preface them with a no-judgment disclosure. Start with something like, “I’m only asking the following to determine when I should replace the tires in the future. There’s no judgment on my part… I just need to know for my own safety.”

For the most honest answers, you should ask these questions after you’ve settled on a price.

Note: Many new RVs sit on the sales lot for a long time. So even new RV tires can be exposed to too much heat and underinflated before even leaving the lot.

Not the way to treat your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best tire tips for storing your RV

Now that you know what factors to consider in determining the realistic life of your tires, I want to leave you with some tire winterization tips.

RV tire tips for short-term and long-term storage

1. Visually inspect the tires before putting them into storage and again when taking the RV out of storage before the tires are back on the road. Look for any irregularities and differences or foreign materials in the tread that should be removed such as stones or other types of debris.

2. Store the RV in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight if possible.

3. If storing the RV outdoors place a surface barrier like a thin piece of wood under the tires to separate them from the ground. This will help protect the tires from the elements while stationary over long periods. It also will help them not to sink with the weight of the RV as the ground freezes and thaws.

4. If possible, lift the stored RV off the ground to take the load off the tires and wheels. Jack stands or lightweight trailer axel lift blocks are great for this task.

5. Cover tires to reduce exposure to sunlight and ozone. White coverings will reflect the sun and keep the tires cooler than darker covers. Specially designed tire covers work best for this task but so can white plastic trash bags.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Keep in mind that stored tires can lose air pressure and in two ways:

  • Temperature: No matter the brand, tires can lose ~1.5 percent of air pressure per 10 degrees F with temperature changes. Tires are subject to the Ideal Gas Law which simply means that as the temperature changes, so does air pressure within the tire—in other words, cold air contracts while warm air expands. So, it’s vital to check tire inflation when the tires are cold prior to use and re-inflate tires to their proper pressure as per the placard on the RV (or the original paperwork) before putting them back into service.
  • Sitting static: Tires lose about 3 percent inflation pressure per month while sitting around inflated and not running (at constant temperature). Again, re-inflate the tires to proper pressures before putting them back into use.

Taking the time to prepare your RV before you store it for the winter can help protect your investment for the long haul.

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin                                                                                     

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

How to Survive an RV Tire Blowout

It’s one of RVers’ biggest fears: a tire blowout. Here’s what to do if you have an RV tire blowout while driving and how to prevent it.

Many RVers share a common fear: an RV tire blowout. We’ve all heard the horror stories of RVers losing control of their RV when a tire blows. We’ve seen the scary images of flipped RVs and shredded motorhomes. 

But you shouldn’t be scared. You should just be prepared and know what to do if your tire blows while driving. 

I’m going to walk you through what to do in the moment and how to prevent it in the first place. 

IMPORTANT: What you should do is counterintuitive. So, please read!

What would you do if your RV tire blew? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How to handle a tire blowout in your RV

I’m not here to offer you a guarantee. There is no foolproof way to maintain control in every circumstance. 

However, I are going to share simple ways of maintaining control of a vehicle by using established physical principles that have proven effective over the years if used quickly and properly.

So, while I can’t guarantee it, the following techniques will give you the best chance to maintain control of your RV if a tire blows. Allstate recommends the same techniques with the following steps.

Note: The principles are the same for every type of vehicle, loaded or empty.

Not the way to treat your RV tire! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. First, stay calm

2. Do NOT brake

Whatever you do, do not hit the brake pedal! That’s one of the surest ways to lose control. 

3. Do NOT take your foot off the gas pedal

If you ask drivers what to do when your tire blows, most will say to take your foot off the gas pedal. THAT IS NOT CORRECT!

Keep your foot where it is and immediately do the next step…

4. Accelerate

Yes, accelerate. It may seem counterintuitive but accelerating counteracts the sideways pull your RV experiences during a tire blowout.

Put simply, accelerating forces your RV to stay straight.

5. Correct steering as necessary

To offset the initial force of the blow and sideways pull, you’ll likely need to correct the steering to keep going straight. The key is doing the smallest steering adjustments possible. 

Do not overcorrect by whipping the wheel in the opposite direction of the pull. Try to make a series of small movements that help you maintain control.

Think of balancing a ball on the board. With small adjustments, you can keep the ball on the board. But any big, jerking movements send the ball flying off the board. In the same way, small adjustments will keep your RV on the road.

Use tire covers to protect your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Choose when and where to slow down and pull over

Once you have successfully maintained control of the vehicle, THEN it’s time to slow down and pull over. Again, do not hit the brakes or take your foot off the gas pedal.

Once you see a safe place to pull over, gradually release pressure on the gas pedal. Correct the steering as necessary as you slow down and gently steer it to your safe spot on the side of the road.

If you start to lose control again, accelerate. Regain control and release the pressure from the gas pedal even more gradually.

If possible, coast to a stop. Only press the brakes (gently!) if absolutely necessary and only once you have slowed enough to feel like you’re in complete control.

7. Turn on emergency lights and proceed with caution

Once you are safely on the side of the road, turn on your emergency lights. If it’s safe to exit the vehicle, get out your roadside emergency kit and place orange warning triangles or the equivalent behind your RV.

Assess whether it’s safe to change the tire yourself or contact roadside assistance. Be sure to check the wheel well and undercarriage for any damage.

Not the way to treat your RV tires! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Summed up step-by-step

  • Stay calm
  • Do NOT brake
  • Do NOT take your foot off the gas pedal
  • Accelerate
  • Correct steering with the smallest adjustments possible
  • Identify a safe place to pull over
  • Gradually release pressure on the gas pedal
  • Gently steer to the safe spot on the side of the road
  • Coast to a stop
  • Turn on emergency lights
  • Proceed with caution, only exiting RV when safe
What would you do if your RV tire blew? © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

IMPORTANT: Practice reacting to a tire blowout

I know what you’re thinking. How do you practice reacting to a tire blowout? The answer is visualization!

You should visualize what you will do if a tire blows out on you. And I don’t just mean to think about it. I mean visualize the sound, the feelings, and every step of your response. Even visualize the yelp your passenger emits when the tire blows!

Visualizing is the only realistic way to prepare yourself for a tire blowout. Studies with athletes have shown that imagining the full picture of a scene is nearly just as good as actually practicing.

This is important when it comes to tire blowouts because accelerating is counterintuitive. So, you need to overcome the natural reflex to hit the brakes or take your foot off the gas pedal.

Practice (visualize) accelerating and going through all of the steps. Otherwise, you might react badly even if you know the proper way to react! You might reflexively hit the brake or take your foot off the pedal. 

How to prevent a tire blowout

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

The Danger of Underinflated RV Tires

Do not drive with underinflated RV tires! I have some critical advice to save you lots of grief.

One of the most important but neglected parts of your RV: your tires. There is nothing more frightening than having a tire blow out while you are driving at highway speeds. Studies show that more than 30 percent of us drive with underinflated RV tires.

In an RV it is dangerous!

Maintaining proper tire pressure in your RV should always be a top priority but with summer underway, it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on your tires. The dangers of underinflated tires include increased risk for tire blowouts which in turn can cause you to lose control of your RV and potentially cause harm to your vehicle and other drivers on the road.

Not the way to care for your RV tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What causes a tire blowout

There are a variety of reasons that an RV could experience a tire blowout but almost every cause for blowout can be traced back to the condition of the tire and whether or not it was properly inflated. In the summer, drivers have a tendency to underinflate tires, knowing that heat causes air to expand. This approach makes sense; however, in order to keep your tire pressure at a safe level, tires should always be inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications.

When tires are underinflated there is undue stress put on the internal components—the fabric, steel, rubber, etc. The extra heat of summer along with the low air pressure can cause these internal components to snap and break. If your RV tires are already weak or in poor condition, then you’re at an even greater risk for experiencing a blowout during the summer months.

Another cause of tire blowout includes overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have the capacity for. Overloading your vehicle poses its own set of dangers and puts too much pressure on your tires. As I discussed above, too much pressure paired with too much heat spells out disaster.

Potholes, uneven driving surfaces, and sharp debris left in the road can also cause RV drivers to experience a tire blowout. A pothole can cause an underinflated tire to explode if hit at just the right angle. When driving your RV you need to keep a lookout for potholes, debris, and other issues so you don’t put yourself and other drivers in danger.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What can you do to prevent a tire blowout?

Preventing a tire blowout from happening is of extreme importance as an RV driver. While there will always be factors that are out of your control, you need to take the time and effort necessary to do your part in keeping tires in safe working condition:

  • Always inspect your tires, checking for tread depth, signs of wear and tear, and most importantly, checking for adequate tire pressure
  • Make sure you aren’t overloading your RV and carrying more weight than you have capacity for
  • Keep a watchful eye on the roadways looking out for debris or potholes that could cause tire damage
  • Maintain a safe driving distance from other vehicles at all times just in case you would lose control of your vehicle due to a tire blowout

Tire blowouts can be very dangerous, not only for you but also for other unsuspecting drivers that have to swerve to avoid tire pieces. Follow these tips, maintain your tire pressure, and be safe driving this summer.

Is it safe to drive with low tire pressure?

Maintaining good tires is one of the most important parts of RV ownership. After all, without good tires, you won’t be traveling anywhere! Despite this, many people end up driving on low tire pressure which puts unnecessary strain on the tires and the entire vehicle. 

It’s a bad idea to drive with tires that are overinflated or underinflated because this shortens the lifespan of your RV tires. Although tires can be replaced once they blow, it’s best to avoid this situation altogether. Blowouts can be dangerous, especially if you’re driving at highway speeds when they occur. 

Driving with underinflated tire causes numerous problems for your RV, some more obvious than others. Below I’ll discuss a few of the risks you run when you drive with underfilled tires. I’ll also cover some tips for proper maintenance so you can enjoy disaster-free road trips. 

Check your tires at each stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Poor fuel mileage

One of the downsides of low tire pressure is the effect it has on your fuel efficiency. RVs are already fuel guzzlers so you don’t want to throw any extra money into that pit. If you drive with underinflated tires, your engine has to work harder to complete each rotation. This effort uses up your fuel and that means you need to stop for refills more frequently. 

Nobody wants to pay for extra gas, especially with the rising price of fuel. Keeping your tires inflated to the recommended level will help you save money and keep your RV in better condition. 

Increased vehicle strain

Every part of an RV has to work in order to get it moving. Whether you’re driving a motorhome or pulling a trailer, there’s an engine that’s working hard. It doesn’t need to deal with the added stress that comes from driving on low tire pressure. 

RVs are also significant investments, so it’s important to keep them well maintained and in good driving condition. Keeping your tires properly inflated and performing regular maintenance ensures that everything is in good working order. Underinflated tires require your engine and the other automotive parts to work extra hard. In turn, this shortens the lifespan of your RV. 

Check your tire pressure EVERY travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Uneven tread weathering

Driving with low tire pressure also puts unnecessary stress on the tires themselves. When your tires are underinflated they tend to slump and spread out. This means that more of the tire comes into contact with the road as you drive. 

Typically, only the center of a tire will face the wear and tear of the road. But if you drive on underinflated tires, the sides will also be exposed to this rough treatment. This weathers your tread in an uneven way. Even if you reinflate your tires later, some damage has already been done. 

Reduced traction

This is related to the point above. When you place extra stress on your tires and wear them down, you’ll inevitably lose some traction. All tires eventually wear out but you’ll speed up the process if you’re always driving on low tire pressure. 

Traction is very important for RVers, whether it’s the tires of your RV or the tow vehicle. You need to have as much grip as possible to get your rig moving and control its direction. Driving on snow, ice, mud, and gravel also becomes much harder if your tires have lost their traction. 

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Less responsive vehicle

Driving with compromised tires is extremely dangerous especially when you’re driving something as large and heavy as an RV. Tipping and swaying are already huge risks, so you’ll want to do everything you can to make the experience safer. 

Low-pressure tires make your vehicle less responsive to small adjustments. This is connected to the reduced traction and uneven wear and tear of the tread.

If your vehicle can’t respond quickly enough to turn, change lanes, or make other adjustments, you’re in trouble. You also might deal with some wobbling and drifting if your tires are out of shape. 

Increased risk of blowouts

One of the biggest risks of driving with low tire pressure is the increased likelihood of blowouts and flat tires. Blowouts are dangerous for you and everyone around you on the road.

It’s never fun to deal with a flat tire but it’s especially hard when you’re working with an RV. Because of their increased size and weight, it’s harder to jack them up and replace tires. In addition, you can’t always guarantee that there will be a mechanic nearby, so you have to rely on your roadside assistance program.

It’s imperative that you avoid tire blowouts at all costs. Maintaining the proper tire pressure is a great way to start. 

Tips for RV tire maintenance

If you want to keep your RV in the best possible condition, you need to practice proper RV tire maintenance. This means more than just replacing tires once they go flat. You need to include tires in your regular check-ups, so you don’t miss any budding problems.

There are also preventative measures you can take to keep your tires good for as long as possible. You should always check your tires before leaving on a long trip. Also, check them before and after you put your vehicle into storage for the winter. Below we have a few tips that will help you keep your tires properly filled and in great shape!

Use a tire pressure monitoring system

Tires can unexpectedly become damaged, even if you look after them. This is why a tire pressure monitoring system is a great gadget to have. It can alert you if your tire pressure is too low or too high, if a tire has a puncture, or if the temperature is too high. These early warnings will help you address problems before they become dangerous.

RV tire © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cover tires during storage

If you choose to store your RV during certain seasons, make sure you cover your tires. Quality tire covers will insulate your tires from extreme temperature changes, prevent UV damage, and keep them cleaner.

Proper tire maintenance is crucial! Here are a few articles to help and I strongly recommend reading all of them.

I hope all of this information helps keep you safe!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Check RV Tire Pressure EVERY Travel Day and Here’s Why

Proper tire pressure is critically important not only to your safety but the life of your tires. Here is why you should check RV tire pressure EVERY travel day

RV tires are vital to a safe, smooth trip, yet they are often the most overlooked parts of an RV. People know they need to check them but they don’t realize how often they should check them.

RVers should give a visual inspection of their tires before every travel day and at each stop along the way. But that’s not all! It may seem tedious but you should also check your RV tire pressure before you hit the road—every time!

Isn’t that overkill?! It’s really not and I’ll tell you why. (Spoiler alert: it’ll save you time, money, and headaches!)

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV tires: What you need to know

I’m writing this article because I realized I have been neglecting the topic up to this point. In truth, I started to get too lackadaisical about my tire maintenance (like all RVers do from time to time). I needed a kick in my pants to remind me of how important RV tire care and maintenance really is. 

When I got my kick in the pants, I checked my blog to see what posts I had to help my readers that I could update. Too few, it turns out! That spurred me to write a series of new blogs. 

So, let’s start this series and answer why checking RV tire pressure is so important.

Why you should check RV tire pressure EVERY travel day

Checking your RV tire pressure takes less than 5 minutes and makes a big difference in keeping you safe, keeping you off the side of the road, and keeping money in your pocket. 

Let’s begin with the most important benefit: your safety.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The danger of underinflated tires

Underinflated RV tires lead to blowouts. It’s as simple (and as dangerous) as that. I hope you’ve never had an RV tire blowout but if you have you know how scary it is. 

When your RV tire blows, it can cause serious problems like loss of steering control, swaying, and even a fire. The debris from the blown tire can cause bouncing and possibly damage your RV, too.

Needless to say, you want to do everything you can to prevent RV tire blowouts. While some causes are out of your control (like debris in the road), tire pressure is something you can properly maintain.

If tire pressure is too low, too much of the tire’s surface area touches the road which increases friction. Increased friction can cause the tires to overheat which can lead to premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts.

Let’s talk about premature wear and tread separation now.

Incorrect tire pressure shortens the lifespan of RV tires

You might think that tire dealers and manufacturers try to get you to replace your tires earlier to make more money but the lifespan of RV tires is truthfully quite short. 

The rule of thumb for changing your RV tires is around 5-7 years. The consensus from RV owners leans to the 6-year end of that estimate. However, that rule of thumb only applies to quality tires that have been well taken care of. Underinflated tires can drastically decrease that projected lifespan.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3 products to help you check and maintain tire pressure

Maintaining the correct tire pressure is easy if you have the right tools. I recommend the following (or some comparable version of the following).

1. Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Every RVer should carry a tire pressure gauge. However, there is a better tool. Instead of checking your tire pressure manually, you can monitor it with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). With this system, you just have to look at the display to check your tire pressure before you leave.

A Tire Pressure Monitoring System does exactly what its name implies. It displays a readout and/or gives you real-time status reports on all of your RV tires.

If a tire gets too low, it alerts you with a sound and flashes a message. Some show you exactly which tire is underinflated while others just alert you to check your tires.

Some RVs have a TPMS built in, but not all do. If yours doesn’t, you can install an after-market system.

2. Portable Air Compressor

A recommended air compressor is the Viair 40047-400P RV model. The RV means it is made for RVs and the unit is powered by jumper cables that attach to the battery of your vehicle.

It comes in a sturdy canvas bag and has all the accessories including a hose, inflators, and a pressure gauge. It is very easy to hook up and operate. 

It’s not the cheapest air compressor but it is considered by many to be the best.

3. Emergency Roadside Kit

No matter what precautions you take, RV blowouts can still happen. So, at the very least, you should carry LED road flares and/or orange warning triangles. Better yet, you can carry a whole kit.

In addition to having an emergency roadside kit, I highly recommend RV roadside assistance. At some point or another, every RVers ends up on the side of the road. It’s just a fact of the RV lifestyle.

Check your RV tires at every rest stop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weight distribution and loading your RV

It’s extremely important to balance your cargo throughout your rig so that the weight is evenly distributed across your axles and each tire. If one side or tire is loaded to more than its weight rating you are more likely to experience a blowout. When loading your RV, keep in mind that certain items like batteries and a generator weigh more than others. You’ll also want to pay attention to your layout—if your kitchen is on one side of your rig, load cargo on the opposite side to even out the distribution. Make sure you distribute the weight equally from front to back and side to side. 

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

FAQs about tires

Why should tires not be underinflated?

Underinflated tires can negatively affect a vehicle’s performance in several ways. For one, underinflation can reduce a tire’s load-carrying capacity which means the tire is more likely to fail when carrying heavy loads. This can be especially dangerous when driving on highways or other roads where high speeds are common.

Underinflated tires can also reduce a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Because underinflated tires have a larger contact patch with the road, they create more rolling resistance which means the vehicle’s engine has to work harder to maintain the same speed. This can result in reduced fuel efficiency and increased fuel consumption.

Finally, underinflated tires can also cause a vehicle to handle poorly. Because the tire’s contact patch with the road is larger, the vehicle is less stable and more likely to hydroplane or lose traction in wet or slippery conditions. This can increase the risk of accidents especially on roads with poor visibility or other hazardous conditions.

Take good care of your tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s the best way to check tire inflation?

The best way to check tire inflation is to use a tire pressure gauge. A tire pressure gauge is a small tool that measures the air pressure in a tire and displays the reading on a dial or digital display. To use a tire pressure gauge, you simply remove the valve cap from the tire’s valve stem and press the gauge onto the stem. The gauge will then display the tire’s air pressure allowing you to determine if the tire is properly inflated.

It’s important to check your tire pressure regularly as it can fluctuate due to changes in temperature and other factors. Most tire manufacturers recommend checking the tire pressure at least once a month and before each road trips. Additionally, you should always check your tire pressure before driving after your vehicle has been parked for an extended period of time as this can cause the tire pressure to drop.

When checking your tire pressure, it’s important to use a reliable tire pressure gauge and to check the pressure when the tires are cold as driving can cause the tire pressure to increase. It’s also a good idea to consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find out the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. This will help ensure that your tires are properly inflated and operating at their optimal level.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How many accidents are caused by tire problems?

It’s difficult to say exactly how many accidents are caused by tire problems as tire-related issues are not always the primary cause of accidents. However, tire failure can certainly contribute to accidents and it’s important to properly maintain your tires to help prevent accidents and ensure safe driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire failure is a contributing factor in approximately 11,000 car accidents each year in the United States. These accidents can range from minor incidents with no injuries to serious accidents that result in fatalities.

To help prevent tire-related accidents, it’s important to properly maintain your tires and regularly check their inflation and tread depth. You should also inspect your tires for any signs of damage or wear and replace them when necessary. By taking these simple steps, you can help ensure that your tires are in good condition and reduce the risk of accidents.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How are RV tires different than motor vehicle tires?

RV tires are specifically designed for use on recreational vehicles such as motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, and camper vans. These tires are typically larger and more heavy-duty than regular passenger vehicle tires as RVs tend to be larger and heavier than most cars and trucks.

One of the key differences between RV tires and regular tires is their load-carrying capacity. RV tires are designed to support the weight of the vehicle and its contents which can be much greater than the weight of a passenger vehicle. As a result, RV tires are typically larger and have stronger construction than regular tires.

Another difference between RV tires and regular tires is their tread pattern. RV tires are designed to provide good traction on a variety of road surfaces including wet and slippery roads. They often have a more aggressive tread pattern than regular tires which helps improve traction and reduce the risk of hydroplaning.

Additionally, RV tires are typically designed to withstand the unique demands of long road trips. This means they are often made from special compounds that resist heat, wear, and punctures which helps extend their lifespan and improve their performance over long distances.

Overall, RV tires are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of recreational vehicles and are typically larger, more durable, and more specialized than regular passenger vehicle tires.

Check your RV tires every travel day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How do I know when a tire is bad?

There are a few signs that a tire may be bad and in need of replacement. One of the most obvious signs is if the tire has a visible bulge or blister on the sidewall. This can be a sign of a serious issue with the tire’s structure and can cause a sudden failure while driving.

Additionally, if the tread on the tire is worn down to less than 1/16 of an inch, it is likely time to replace the tire.

Another way to tell if a tire is bad is if it is showing signs of age such as cracking on the sidewall or tread. It is generally recommended to replace tires every six years even if they still have tread on them.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign

Safety Dance

There is nothing in this world as wonderful as an RV road trip but nothing so terrible as having it ruined due to a safety issue

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer, so it’s best to prevent tragedy before it has the opportunity to occur. RV owners need to be aware of this and other potential issues as they travel.

The recent tragic carbon-monoxide-related death of three friends vacationing in Mexico is a somber reminder for everyone to pay attention to safety. While this certainly applies to all of us in our daily lives, this article will address RV safety. RV owners must be constantly aware of several safety-related issues to help protect their units and their families on the road. Let’s start with combustible gas.

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas often formed by incomplete combustion in propane and natural gas appliances. Since most RVs have several propane appliances on board, they are prime candidates for carbon monoxide to be present—thus the importance of annual propane system maintenance by an RV service professional.

During a yearly inspection, an RV technician will thoroughly examine the propane system and appliances for proper operation. This includes checking for leaks, proper pressure, and appliance condition.

At the very least, the RV’s furnace, water heater, and fridge (unless it’s a residential unit) all utilize combustion. If these appliances are not regularly checked and maintained, the burners may become damaged or drift out of adjustment and potentially result in incomplete combustion and CO emission.

Electric heater © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For instance, a furnace burner operates inside a sealed combustion chamber that vents outside the RV. Heat inside the RV is generated by blowing air across the combustion chamber and into the living space. If the combustion chamber becomes damaged or is not completely sealed and the burner does not have the correct fuel or air mixture, carbon monoxide can result and leak into the RV. So, if the appliances are not regularly maintained, there is a risk of CO entering the living space. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer that is difficult to detect before it’s too late.

>> Related article: 9 RV Fire Hazards and How to Avoid Them

The best way to protect your family from the dangers of CO, both in your home and your RV, is to have working carbon monoxide alarms installed. If your CO alarms are battery operated, be sure to replace the batteries twice per year. If you live or travel in an area where daylight savings time is observed, I recommend replacing the batteries in your propane and CO alarms when you change your clocks. Otherwise, set yourself a reminder to replace the batteries.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If your detectors are wired into your RV’s 12-volt system, monitor the power LED on the alarm to make sure it is green. Test these devices regularly for proper operation; your CO alarm will have a button that should be pressed once a month or so for this purpose. Carbon monoxide mixes with air; therefore, CO alarms may be placed at any height from floor to ceiling.

Finally, be sure to replace your CO alarm every 10 to 15 years as indicated in the manufacturer’s documentation. The device should have a manufacture date stamped on the back.

Smoke alarm © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I know it can be tempting to take the batteries out of your RV smoke alarm after it goes off for the tenth time when you are just making toast. Don’t do it. Working smoke detectors really do save lives. Test your smoke detector monthly and change the batteries twice a year around daylight savings time. 

Like carbon monoxide, propane gas is odorless and colorless; however, ethyl mercaptan, an odorant that smells like rotten eggs, is added to propane and natural gas for safety reasons. A propane detector will sense the presence of propane in the air long before the ethyl mercaptan is smelled by humans.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Treat the propane detector the same as the CO alarm including regular testing. Propane gas is heavier than air; therefore, detectors must be placed near the floor in an RV. While propane is generally an extremely safe energy source, it is important to respect it to eliminate risk wherever possible. To this end, always make sure to turn your propane containers off during travel. It is illegal in some places to travel with open propane containers, but even if it’s legal, it doesn’t make it safe.

>> Related article: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Make sure you have at least one working fire extinguisher in your RV, although I recommend owning at least two. Most RVs are sold with one 2-pound fire extinguisher. This is not large enough to handle a significant fire. I recommend installing at least one extra extinguisher (type A, B, C). One should be near the main entry door (likely the place where the factory-installed extinguisher will be located) and one in the rear especially if the bedroom is in the back.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You may opt to install additional extinguishers and/or a fire-suppression system in the engine bay and behind the fridge. The extinguishers should be at least 5 pounds in capacity. Have the extinguishers professionally inspected yearly and make sure you know how to use them. This is something RV dealerships don’t show you when they perform the walk-through on your new RV.

In other safety considerations, ensure all your exterior lights are in proper operating condition. This includes clearance lights and running, tail, brake, fog, and signal lights. Lights should be checked prior to each trip.

Regularly inspect tires © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Whether you have a trailer or a motorhome, have the chassis serviced regularly and inspect the brakes and tires. RV tires tend to age out before they wear out. They often will not show signs of wear, even as they begin to reach the end of their life. It is important to have your tires regularly inspected by a professional tire technician. Tires last an average of five to seven years from date of manufacture. However, this varies widely and tire manufacturers recommend visual inspections by experts on a regular basis.

>> Related article: How to Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in your RV?

It is also important to run the correct tire pressures for your RV. This is not usually the tire pressure listed on the sidewall of the tire but based on the weight of your RV and each wheel position.

Be safety aware at all times © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trailer owners should ensure the towing systems are well maintained and operated properly, specifically the coupler, equalizer, safety chains, wiring harness, and breakaway cable. Motorhome owners who tow another vehicle also must be vigilant about inspecting their towing equipment on a regular basis.

>> Related article: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

It is fundamentally important to properly maintain all RV systems to help avoid damage, injury, or death to yourself or others. Resist the temptation to take these systems for granted.

Worth Pondering…

Remember, safety is no accident.

The Ultimate Guide to RV Tires

Be in the know about RV tires

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway. You wouldn’t go anywhere without them. You must do your due diligence to protect them and keep them in optimal shape. If you take care of them, they’re more likely to take care of you. 

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The tires of your RV are one of the most important investments you can make. Not only do they make it sail down the road smoothly, they’re also a big part in keeping you and your fellow travelers safe.

Just like with cars and trucks, tires wear down from normal use or occasionally require a replacement due to damage. It’s essential to keep your tires in top shape to encourage safety and ensure you have optimal control over your rig. Here’s a guide to understanding your RV tire options.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Do you need RV replacement tires?

Many things affect the quality of your coach’s tires. Always inspect each tire before driving. Look for cracks, protruding objects, and bulging that may indicate low air pressure. This quick check can prevent you from getting on the road and having to call for a tow due to tire problems.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Age

Most manufacturers recommend replacing RV tires every five to seven years regardless of mileage. At this point, the treads may have diminished, limiting traction with the road and reducing your ability to control the rig. The rubber is more likely to blow out because it has thinned and stretched due to temperature and condition changes. Even if you seldom drive the RV, the tires wear out from holding the weight of the rig.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All tires made after 2000 must have the manufacture date written on the sidewall in the DOT code. To find when your tires were made, look for the numbers on the sidewall after “DOT.” The last four digits indicate the week and year they were made. For example, “1718” tires were made during the 17th week of 2018. Consider an RV tire upgrade if yours are five years old or older.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weather

The environment takes a toll on your RV. Changing temperatures affect tire air pressure and cause wear. High temperatures expand the air increasing pressure and stretching the material. Low temperatures make the air contract reducing the amount of air and putting pressure on tire sidewalls while increasing the likelihood of a blowout.

More on RV safety: On the Road Again: Summer Road Trip Safety Tips

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road conditions

Some RV owners only drive their rigs on well-maintained paved roads. Others use their home-away-from-home to visit areas with less-than-perfect pavement. Driving on gravel, dirt, or ill-maintained roads will decrease the life of your tires. These conditions require the tires to absorb more upward movement from bumps and potholes, wearing out the material more quickly. Stick to roads with even pavement and avoid potholes as much as possible to minimize tire wear.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Extending RV tire life

Follow proper air pressure

Underinflated tires have more resistance and require more fuel due to friction. They also generate more heat during use increasing their likelihood of blowing out. Using too little air will require more frequent RV tire replacement.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Overinflated tires are less flexible and can contribute to a less comfortable ride. The unnecessary stress of too-high pressure will cause the tires to wear faster near the center of the tread. Too much air also increases the chances of a blowout.

Tire manufacturers offer the suggested air pressure on tire sidewalls near the manufacture date. This number will be written in pounds per square inch (PSI). Always carry a heavy duty tire pressure gauge and check it before driving to ensure your tires are in top shape. Gas stations and mechanic shops have air compressors to make it convenient to fill up. Some coaches include tire pressure monitoring systems to make checking PSI easy.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you want to maintain the optimal tire pressure for the best quality ride, weigh each wheel position of the fully loaded RV and then check the tire manufacturers inflation chart for that tire and adjust the inflation pressures to match the tire manufacturers recommendations based on the actual tire loads taking into consideration that tires on both ends of any given axle should be running at the same pressure and the pressure selected should be appropriate for the heaviest loaded tire side.

More on RV safety: April 2022 RV Manufacturer Recalls: 15 Recalls Involving 8 RV Manufactures

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With a temperature decrease you may need to add some air with a compressor. If you drive into higher-temperature areas, you might have to release some air from the tires to prevent pressure problems. Press a screwdriver to the metal pin in the middle of the tire air stem to release air for a second or two. Recheck the pressure and follow this process until you reach the desired PSI.

Your RV manual will state the best tire pressure for your rig. This number is also noted on a data plate on the inside of the RV along with the VIN and weight capacity. Your vehicle might feature this plate on the electrical box near the driver’s seat at the back of a cabinet or inside a cabinet door. 

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Protect the tires

There are steps you can take to extend the life of your rig’s tires. Rotate RV tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles to promote even wear. Use tire covers when storing your rig to protect the material from precipitation, heat, and debris.

Choosing RV replacement tires

Here is some information to consider before heading to an RV dealership in search of new tires.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Weight

Your new RV tires must be able to handle the weight of your rig. Class A motorhomes weigh between 15,000 and 54,000 pounds and can be up to 45-feet long. Class B rigs are 6,000 to 8,000 pounds and range from 17 to 19 feet. Class C tires must withstand 10,000 to 20,000 pounds and reach from 20 to 30-feet-long. This information is listed on the data plate inside the rig and in the owner’s manual. Know your vehicle’s weight to ensure you purchase the correct tires to handle your RV.

Make sure your current tires are correct for your rig before using their information to establish which model to purchase next. If the current set is not the appropriate size, you may invest in the wrong tires for your RV. You can verify the tires with a mechanic, an RV dealership, or a tire specialist. If the tires are correct, you can use their specs to inform your new purchase.

More on RV safety: 10 RV Driving Tips

The tires have numbers indicating their size, like 315/80R 22.5. The first number is the width of the tire wall while the second number is the height of the wall as a percent of the width section. The R means it has radial construction and the last number refers to which wheel rim size the tire will fit.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Speed Rating

Not all tires are rated for the same speed. Installing tires with a low speed rating could create hazard if the RV is driven at speeds higher than the rating of the tire. So if you’re usually taking it slow on local and backroads and avoid the highway, you’ll want different tires than if you’re cruising on interstates.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Season

Having the right tires is especially important if you drive in cold, icy places. Worn-out or bald treads will limit steering capacity and braking, potentially causing you to skid off the road or lose control more easily. If you regularly adventure in winter climates, consider investing in a set of snow tires. These models have thicker treads to promote traction on slippery surfaces. You can switch to these models before heading to snowy places.

Your RV tires are what keep you rolling down the highway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some states and Canadian provinces require RV drivers to carry snow chains. These net-like chains go over your tires and provide grip for inclement weather. Avoid driving in blizzard or whiteout conditions whenever possible but keep these tools on hand in case of an emergency.

More on RV safety: 30 RV Hacks and Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Replacement RV tires are a big decision, so don’t be afraid to contact your dealership or tire specialist and ask questions.

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

—Burma Shave sign